Since I did not EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE THE COMFORT OF MY LIVING ROOM TO WATCH (Thank you FOX screening room) Here is my review of the American Idol special preview that screened in theaters across the country tonight.
Did you go? Season 4’s Bo Bice and Anthony Federov and Season 11’s Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon were there!
The preview features 45 minutes of select auditions from New York City and Chicago which are excerpts from next week’s 4 hour premiere (NYC on Wed, Chi-town on Thurs.)
My overall thoughts: Nicki Minaj is going to definitely be the break out star. She’s not only opinionated, but a total chatterbox. And with her quirky style, crazy outfits, and random ways, it’s hard to pay attention to anybody else. No wonder Mariah is a little miffed. Nicki is CONSTANTLY pulling focus. Poor Mariah is destined to be the Paula of the table, but without Forever Your Girl’s charming loopiness. The preview spent much of the time exploring the many personalities of Nicki Minaj. Can you say Sybil? One thing–she totally gets that she’s there to entertain. I found her amusing, but her shtick may get old. The gifs should be hilarious though. She’s a girl of a thousand faces. The Mariah gifs are destined to be of the singer constantly side-eyeing her nemesis. Keith is an astute judge. He’s got a lot of insight, and a real ear for vocal quality. I expect him to make his quiet mark. And Randy is…Well. he’s Randy. He finds Nicki pretty amusing. He’s also, once again, taken on the A-hole mantle for the audition phase.
The talent featuring tonight was middling. And that’s all I’ll say. They are–wisely probably–saving the really good stuff for next week. The preview was more about showcasing the new judges, and giving fans a little taste of the talent, that includes, good singers, sob stories and joke contestants.
Here’s my review, done in live blog style…
American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips walks out on to a bare stage. He takes out his guitar and begins to perform an acoustic version of his ubiquitous hit, “Home.” This is how the American Idol 12 preview begins. Phillip’s performance morphs into his video and then on to a montage of American Idol winners and alums, featuring their accomplishments that include multiple music awards, an Oscar and an appearance on Glee! It makes sense that Idol would emphasize the post-Idol careers of their alums. The 11 year old show may have The Voice nipping at their heels, but so far the aging talent competition is the only show that can boast successful graduates.
Next the judges are introduced. Randy Jackson returns. Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are the newbies.
Glimpses of the hopefuls. First A very young looking boy wearing an oxygen mask. He doesn’t expect to live beyond 35 years old!
“Your range is better than Mariah’s!” says Nicki to a hopeful. “This is what I deal with when I come into my job,” rsnarks Mariah.
Tenna Torres – 28 – Queens New York – “You’ve Got a Friend” – The singer has been listening to Mariah since she was 5 years old. She attended “camp Mariah” as a child–whatever THAT is. Mariah is so glad to have an alumni there. She gives her a big hug. The judges look blissful listening to her! She has a very pretty, soulful voice. “If we can have somebody like this come out of Idol 12, I would be personally very proud,” says Mariah. “We’re all sitting in awe, says Nicki, talking over Mariah. Oops. Keith says her style has a lot of patience.” Tenna leaves the audition room and then bursts into tears.
Nicki seemed to particularly fall for a big haired African American boy with a quirky style and big soulful voice. She gave him some snaps!
James Bae – Long Island, NY – Age 15 – “One Last Lonely Girl” by Justin Bieber – He wants to be the next You Tube sensation like just like Justin. The young singer has an Asia accent and very little experience outside of the confines of his bedroom. He tries to bring a character to his performances. Oh dear. Unfortunately he’s more William Hung, than Psy. “I like you a lot James, do you have a girlfriend?” Negatory. James announces that he would like to do a “collide” some day with Nicki. uhm, I think he means COLLABORATION. Mariah suggests he DJs. Actually, not a bad idea. “The whole package isn’t quite there,” says Keith diplomatically. “I wanted to be a NASCAR driver, but it wasn’t quite there,” says Randy, pulling no punches. He’s the most forthright–telling the kid he sucks. “I WANTED TO BE A BUS DRIVER,” says Nicki. apropos of..well nothing. James looks sad. Nicki tells him that he’s special, just not for singing.
Sarah Restuccio – Age 17 – Hammonton, NJ – Mama’s Song by Carrie Underwood – This pretty brunette is kind of a Carrie clone, with a touch of soul. Nicki says, “You have a beautiful tone, I feel like you could be a humongous country star.” “I agree, I think you have a beautiful voice,” says Mariah, “I felt like you could make a great album. I see a complete package.” Randy says he wants to hear one more song. OMG she launches into Nicki’s “Super Bass.” As if THIS WASN’T SCRIPTED! She adlibs raps to Nicki, who responds. She raps! She sings country! She’s cute! Nicki notes that it’s two different moments, but perfect. Nobody does that! Country singer, Keith finally speaks, “When you sang the first song, I didn’t quite feel it from you,” he says, “Then you sang Nicki’s song–a totally different part of your personality.” Very astute Keith! Sarah definitely had more charisma while rapping the second song. Keith isn’t sure who she is. But Nicki is bullish, insisting there are lots of girls who live on farms who like Super Bass. The boys will like her because she’s pretty and girls will identify with her. Mariah’s eyes were practically rolling out of her head at this point. “If she really likes to sing country songs, she can try to find one that fits into her…” Whoops! Nicki cuts Mariah right off! Nicki is totally sold on this girl and doesn’t think pigeon-holing her style is important at all. Everyone says yes anyway…
Ashlee Feliceano – “Put Your Records On” – Her backstory? She comes from a big adoptive family. There are 3 biological children, and 4 kids who are biologically and medically challenged. Ashlee is very involved with their care. She cries as she talks about her parents. She’s got a pretty voice, but nothing super special. “So pretty,” says Nicki, “I’m so inspired by you.” Mariah says, “I think it was really nice. The potential is great. You should be proud of yourself.” Keith says, “Your lower register has the most beautiful nasal tone.” Then Randy drags in the family. You knew that was coming! The judges fawn over them, and talk about what a great family they are. In their presence (even Ryan is in the room) All the judges say yes.
After the audition, Nicki says, “I feel like we gel well…in a weird crazy way!” Mariah replies, “I agree…” Hm.
Stephanie Schimel – 20 – Milwaukee, WI – “I think you’re pretty, I thought your voice was pretty, but nothing jumped at me,” says Nicki to a pretty blonde singer, whom we don’t hear sing. “I don’t think you feel like a star.” But the rest of the panel like her and all say yes. Nicki says NO. Stephanie isn’t hurt, “I don’t like you any less. I take critique as a good thing.” Nicki proceeds to make absolutely no sense, “We are wearing the same color eye shadow today. We are having a rivalry today, that’s why I said no.” WHAT?!?! says Randy. “But now that your’e through to Hollywood…” Randy cuts Nicki off, “What kind of Junior high are we in now?” “Exactly,” eye rolls Mariah. EVERYBODY IS TALKING OVER EACH OTHER. Shoots back to Mariah, Nicki says, “You shouldn’t have a comment on that.” Stephanie puts her hands over her face. Randy shoos her out of the room before things get even crazier.
Next, it’s a montage of Nicki and Mariah cat fights, with poor Keith in the middle. The montage music? “Stuck in the Middle with You.” Heh.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Nicki says at one point. “It was the way that you said it!” Mariah shoots back.
“I have a thought, Nicki excuse me!” says Mariah.
“I don’t want to make anyone upset here,” says Mariah. “SURE YOU DO,” says Keith. Nicki, who is going to be ENDLESSLY GIFABLE makes faces at the other end of the table.
Keith smacks his head, over and over on the table, “I swear I feel like a scratching post.”
We’re in Chicago now. Keith had to leave early to make a concert in Las Vegas. Randy is planted between Mariah and Nicki. He’s in charge of keeping the girls in line. “Listen,” he says, “Nobody gets hurt. Let’s come out and have fun.”
“AYE AYE CAPTAIN!” says Nicki.
A montage of hot boys are next, and Nicki LIKES.
“We waited all day for you.”
“I see you licking your lips, playboy, what’s really good?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Is that a hole in your pants?” Says the boy, “Why you looking?” Nicki was just getting warmed up for…
Griffin Peterson – 22 – “Wash by the Water” by Need to Breathe – A very good looking white guy. “Do you have a nickname?” asks Nicki, “Because I don’t really think Griffin when I see you. What about ‘Grrrrr” she suggests. Then she asks him if he has a girlfriend. He doesn’t. “I don’t discriminate! We’re all equal!” I’m not sure what Nicki means there. Randy is laughing. “The single life,” side-eyes Mariah. Nicki thinks he looks and feels like a star, but Randy didn’t get it. He thought the voice was just barely below average. “Are you freaking kidding me!” exclaims Nicki. There’s Mariah, laughing and eye-rolling. “Those girls…They’re coming to his concert!” says Nicki. “I do HAVE to say yes to that,” says Mariah. She sees Nicki’s point of view, because the dude has a handsome face. She thinks he has potential. Randy says he could be like a new Bieber. “Bieber doesn’t do that to me!” says Nicki. Randy continues to laugh. He says no. I’m with Randy on this one. The girls say yes. His mom wants to kiss Ryan Seacrest. It’s on her bucket list. She does, with Dad’s permission.
Kevin Nabity – 25 – Polk City, IA – “One Week” by Bare Naked Ladies – He loves Ninja Turtles and martial arts. I smell a joke contestant! His dancing consists of awkward jumping and somersaults. He’s confident, but doesn’t want to come off as cocky! He says this while we watch him klutzily drop ninja sticks in the water. His singing is captioned, including gibberish. and finally just question marks. The captioners use what looks like other languages and numbers. I laughed out loud. “SOLD” says Randy, imitating an auctioneer. “You aren’t seriously insinuating that you don’t like Kevin, are you?” says Nicki, sounding serious. “Kevin just tried to sell me an old moterbike, which I don’t want,” says Randy. “Kev, maybe you can wow them with something else!” chirps Nicki. He suggest “Come Sail Away.” BINGO! “Oh yeah,” says Keith. Nicki slips into a British accent “Aw do you want woh-tah” she asks when, after Kev slaughters the song, he says his voice is dry. It’s a very big no for Kev.
Next, it’s a montage of the judges saying no. Tears and hugs all around.
OK. Last audition! Oh, it’s the stutter kid! from the promo.
Lazaro Arbos – 21 – Arbos, FL – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel – His Cuban parents, in Spanish, explain that his extreme stuttering began when he was 6 years old and never improved. I’m talking EXTREME stutter. It takes him several seconds to get one word out. When the family moved to the US when Lazzaro was 10, his stutter got much worse. He’s a very solitary fellow as a result. Lazaro sings beautifully, in a clear sweet tone without a trace of stutter (which is not unusual) ‘Just sing all the time!” says Keith. “Your story is very inspiring,” says Nicki. “I think you brought a really great vibe into the room.” Keith says, “I love your tone, I love the way you sing, I love that you did that song, It’s one of my favorites. It just elicits so much emotion.” Lazaro is crying through his critique. “I love you so much,” he says to Mariah after she compliments his voice. All together, they say YES.
46 Idols breezed through the windy city!